“Excessive humidity” in the hangar

Builders;

Below, two pictures, one of the hangar and one of the workshop. We have a family joke that goes back to 1967 about “excessive humidity” as an understatement for water.  Our field elevation is 77 feet, but our acre is slightly lower, and is a localized low spot, prone to flooding during exceptional storms. The photo shows the water receding, it was about 10″ deep in the hangar. Because this was expected, the planes were moved to friends hangars, and nothing was left on the floor. ( Notice the Tig welder is hanging from the engine hoist) By midnight on Saturday, the hangar floor was free of water, the workshop was down to 2.”

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Above, a look in the hangar. Notice nothing was left on the floor. 1-26 fuselage is hanging from the roof trusses, the wings are on the back porch. Gliders are designed to have the wings removed in a few minutes. Keep in mind that none of the inventory lives here, it is all high and dry on shelves at SPA/Panther, so there is no interruption in shipping of parts, no matter how ‘humid’ my hangar is.

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Above, the workshop. It sits about 2″ lower than the hangar. It is insulated and cooled and heated, but the insulation stops 3′ from the floor so it doesn’t get soaked in a flood. In the ten and a half years we have been here, the shop has flooded eight or nine times. The typical interruption to work is 3 or 4 days. The most effective solution would be to replace the shop and the hangar with a modern building sitting on a new slab 24″ higher, but that is a pretty expensive sentence, not mathematically supported by the last decades real estate values, nor working to supply the most economical engine on the market, while staying true to Why “Made in America” matters to me.

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If I didn’t like what I do, having the nicest shop wouldn’t make me happy: Equally, if you believe in what you do, then a less than perfect facility, is an occasional annoyance, but not a road block. A lot of homebuilt planes are finished in basements and garages by motivated builders, while a greater number sit in spotless hangars, never worked on.

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For a look at what the yard looks like in a big storm, check out: Let It Not Rain.

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In 1967, one of the projects my father was working on in Vietnam was dredging the port facilities Cam Ranh Bay. The US Government had allowed contractors from SEATO nations to bid the job. The Asian company that got the contract had to tow the dredge hundreds of miles to bring it to the site. When it was late, my father sternly asked for an explanation, and true to the old eastern custom of not loosing face or directly addressing issues, he was told the delay was caused by “Excessive humidity in the engine compartment.” A nice message, but the US Navy sent word the dredge was at the bottom of the South China Sea, having already sunk in route.

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-ww.

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